“Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge”
That’s a good one, and accessible.
I have a real issue with people that start with postmodern philosophers first then work backwards. What i have noticed about people that do this—and i’ve had plenty of experience with these kids back in days as a professional student—is that they would always go back and read the texts in a highly distorted, preconceived way and would basically get nothing out of them and completely miss the point.
The other thing I noticed is that most of the lecturers that teach kids postmodern philosophy now—generally media studies or cultural studies academics—don’t actually know much about real philosophy. this is ultimately where the problem begins.
I’m certainly not an anti-intellectual, but i do have a problem with lazy and slack academics that are basically hacks. Just can’t take them seriously.
I recommend Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and Plato’s Theaetetus. Those two are my favorites that have not been mentioned.
Yeah, but then really to understand the Greeks you need at least a little bit of cultural context to understand Socrates and Plato and Aristotle as thinking-in-response-to-a-particular-something rather than thinking emerging from vacuum, and then you need to read some interpretation to refine your understanding of what they arguing . . . and all of a sudden the stack of books in front of you is really F-cking huge.
Sure Matt, i understand the reasons for it, and ultimately these academics are just applying certain ideas to whatever subject/topic it is they are studying. What i feel is that, quite often, they aren’t really teaching students properly.
Having said that, i always encourage people to track down philosophical texts with quality introductions/forewords to give shape and context to the reading itself. These can be immensely helpful.
“I have a real issue with people that start with postmodern philosophers first then work backwards.”
I would say you do require a foundation in modernism to understand postmodernism, and to understand modernism you at least need Enlightenment thinkers. Stretching further back than that will inform that foundation but the foundation of how we ‘think’ today essentially surrounds those more recent trends.
But Lyotard’s text is not a postmodern one in and of itself, but a very appropriate method of putting postmodernism in context to its previous foundations. It is a very good place to start.
“i always encourage people to track down philosophical texts with quality introductions/forewords to give shape and context to the reading itself.”
That’s pretty much what Lyotard is: the foreward to Postmodernism as a whole.
^^I’m familiar with Lyotard, wasn’t criticising your suggestions, just making a few general observations.
I also wish young students were encouraging to read counter arguments to postmodernism as well. i.e theorists that deny it and discuss the trends more broadly as being a continuation/ extension/hyperintensification of certain aspects of modernism rather than a distinctive ‘break’ or rupture in the cultural timeline. or ones that are even flat out against postmodernism(e.g Against Postmodernism, the book).
But yeah, let’s not get into a debate about this ;-)
Haven’t dug as deep as I’d like, but from what I’ve found most interesting:
The Birth of Tragedy, Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche
The Orgins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jeruslem by Hannah Arendt
The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx (come on, this is philosophy)
Being and Time by Martin Heidegger (though I didn’t quite understand all of it, what I did I found brilliant)
Hoping too get to some Volitaire soon.
The Communist Manifesto is closer to ‘propaganda’(in the best possible sense) than philosophy imo. It’s like a cliff notes version of Marxism.
The Communist Manifesto was an assignment pulled off on the last minute to provide cohesion for a group of people who were trying to present a method of turning the philosophy into activism. It was not intended to be a rubric or rule book for modeling a society but some ideas of how to go about thinking of modeling such a society. This is why at several points the Manifesto lists procedures or suggestions and ends them with, literally, “etc.” What definitive text on social organization would list their laws or civic structure with “etc.”?
The usage, popularity, debate, and historical significance of that text are profoundly out of measure to its intent or even quality of writing. It’s the equivalent of a student dashing off an essay on educational reform and the entire school being required to refashion itself around the concepts of the essay, and then demanding other schools take note. Incredible and amazing, really, but still poorly written and oversimplistic version of the overall philosophy, turned into horrid massive examples beyond it’s original intent.
I’m not fond of Marxism anyway (I feel he engages in a lot of modal fallacies that some of the contemporary movements of the time were representative of the long term future movement of social organization) but the Communist Manifesto is almost campy to read when you try to work out how that one little ‘red book’ gets marched behind. Another off-hand issue of, “Did any communists actually read this?!”
In other words everyone should read it, it’s important to understand in isolation to its historic attempts at actualization. Das Kapital is important to understand in comparison.
second Mill particularly his writing on women
Bentham was Mill’s influence, one should read him first tho he can be turgid
“I’m not fond of Marxism anyway (I feel he engages in a lot of modal fallacies that some of the contemporary movements of the time were representative of the long term future movement of social organization”
Marx was so inconsistent that a lot of philosophers question whether he even understood what he was even doing. not so much from an economic standpoint, but from the point of a view of a materialist that supposedly wanted to avoid making any ethical or ‘metaphysical’ claims. I don’t know how you can argue that man doesn’t have an essential nature and is basically a ‘work species’ on one hand, then argue that man is alienated from his labour when he isn’t control of it, on another, and think that is perfectly consistent with his materialist position. and that’s only the beginning with Marx.
Marx was also a bad writer too, which certainly didn’t help matters.
Trotsky was pretty dynamic
I like a lot of Nietzsche’s books. I think there have been before and after Nietzsche great philosophers, but I do think that he had a huge influence on existentialist philosophers and artists such as writers and other artists of the twentieth century. It’s a shame that he was not cognizant of the fact that he had become famous in the last decade or so of his life, due to his syphilis. I’d also recommend books written on him like Nietzsche: A Critical Life by Ronald Hayman which shows what his actual life was like and not just his philosophy, so you can get a better understanding of why he could have come up with the points he wrote up in his books. There’s another one I read as well that I can’t seem to remember the author of. It went somewhat off the lines of that book as well, showing you what his life was like which I highly recommend as well. I think I took that one out of my library as well, but maybe I’ll have to take a look at their card catalog to remember what it was. I have read other ones like the one by Walter Kauffman, R. J. Hollingdale’s one, and one by Richard Solomon whose book I believe went under the title of What Nietzsche Really Said. I’d like to read the one by Rudiger Safranski. I started Safranski’s biography of Schopenhauer but never finished it. Has anyone read the Safranski Nietzsche book? There is another biography of Nietzsche written by a woman that knew him titled Nietzsche by Lou Salome. I second Jazz on the Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. I think it can help with a philosopher like Nietzsche. Also, Jean Jacques Rousseau is pretty good such as his Social Contract and The Discourse On The Origin Of Inequality. Machiavelli’s The Prince is good. That’s one about how to become a dictator. Also, a good place to go with reading about philosphers and philosophy would be In 90 Minutes books like Nietzsche In 90 Minutes, Heidegger In 90 Minutes, etc… Their fairly fast reads and they try to simplify for you what a philosopher is trying to say. And another good way to learn about philosphers and philosophy is to check out the Great Courses by The Teaching Company. These are lectures by college professors on various subjects including philosophy and other topics such as art, literature, history, science, math, music, and religion. I like Buddhist books a lot. Try some by the Dalai Lama like The Universe In A Single Atom which I’m pretty sure I’ve read. I especially like books about Zen though. There’s some great Asian philosophical books such as A Book Of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi and one I would like to read one of these day but have skimmed through and that is Sun Tzu’s Art Of War.
A few more biographies on Nietzsche that I liked a lot. Young Nietzsche: Becoming A Genius by Carl Pletsche and Nietzsche In Turin. Was just on my library’s website. Couldn’t seem to find the Nietzsche biography that I was looking for.
I haven’t gotten a chance to fully read Das Kapital, but I hope too someday.
Anyways, I forgot a big one, a huge influence on me: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.